Legends of the DC Universe #18, 80-Page Giant #1

My Teen Titans read-through takes me on a detour into the late Nineties, when DC was publishing books with legacy characters and was also taking the time to dive into the “untold” stories of its history. Legends of the DC Universe was one such title, and while I have only read four issues (these two, the other 80-Page Giant, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths special), rereading them has made me want to add this book to my cheapie bin chase list.

The 80-Page Giant is cover-dated September 1998 and has a framing device that features Chronos being shown various characters and instances of heroism throughout the DC Universe (reluctantly, too, it seems). We’ve got some really solid stories featuring The Spectre (with art by Steve Ditko!), Hawkman, and Adam Strange, but the reason I bought this was the return of Marv Wolfman and George Perez to the New Teen Titans. I mean, it’s only a short story, but it was enough to keep me satiated until something else came along, as this came out at the same time that the final issue of Dan Jurgens’ Teen Titans (a series that I remember as slightly underrated). Unfortunately, what would come next would be The Titans, but I’ll get to that eventually.

This particular story is one that is written by Wolfman and Perez with pencils by Phil Jimenez and inks by Romeo Tanghal. So even though Perez isn’t penciling the story, Jiminez’ Perez-influenced art fits this team well, especially with inks by regular NTT inker Tanghal (whose contribution to that book and the DCU in general should not go overlooked). It stars Raven, who has just had her pleas for help rejected by the Justice League of America as well as her own people of Azareth, looking at each of her future teammates as they exist just as New Teen Titans #1 opens. We see Robin save people from Two-Face; Changeling being obnoxious with his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Jillian; and Cyborg fighting with his father and then getting the inspiration (via Raven) to design Titans Tower. She says she’ll need to handle Kid Flash herself, and our encounters with Starfire and Wonder Girl lead right into that first issue of the series.

As for Kid Flash? We see what she means in issue #18, which is written by Wolfman and drawn by Butch Guice, a single issue of the series where Wally and Raven are both struggling with the angst that comes with being a teenage super hero. He is never around his girlfriend because he’s always Kid Flash and is seriously considering quitting superheroing (as shown in the first issues of the series), especially after he discovers that she is cheating on him with his best friend. Depressed and desperate, he runs at super speed into the Himalayas, more or less ready to let himself freeze to death.

Conveniently (but not, of course, because it’s deliberate), Raven is there, and she has a fire going. They sit by the fire and have a prolonged heart-to-heart talk, which I believe is where she plants the seed that Wally is in love with her. That’s something that I never understood about the initial New Teen Titans storyline, and I think that might be because it has such frenetic energy that Wolfman didn’t have the time to really explore how that actually happened. I’ll get to that storyline soon, of course, so for now I’ll say that I enjoyed this here. Butch Guice’s art suits the story well, and I remember that when I bought it in 1999, I was as excited as I had been about the previous year’s 80-page Giant because while The Titans is a title, it’s kind of a “half of what we wanted” type of Titans book (again, more in the future).

So this wound up being a bit of a tease, but a good one. I don’t think they’re required reading when it comes to the Wolfman-Perez Titans, just an accessory. I also don’t know how easy these issues are to find out there in the wild, but if you can find them on the cheap, they’re worth grabing.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?

Keep.

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